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How Do I Get Back a Passion For Programming? 516

bigsexyjoe writes "I am a somewhat experienced software developer who is pretty much an office drone. I used to enjoy writing code. I even enjoyed writing routine code before it became routine. But now I just come in day in and day out. I work for manipulative jerks. I don't care about the product I create. I don't enjoy coding anymore. I'm not great at interviewing. I don't have an impressive resume. I stick in more advanced stuff into my code when I can, but that is always on the sly. So my question is how do I get back the enjoyment I used to have writing code?"
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How Do I Get Back a Passion For Programming?

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  • Sucks to be you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Q-Hack! ( 37846 ) * on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:09PM (#38004506)

    How about getting out of your comfort zone. Get your resume up to date. Have people review it for readability. Start looking for a new job. You may not enjoy your current employer, but find one that peaks your interest and the joy of coding will return. Also, it helps if the projects have an overall goal in mind that you agree with. For some that may be the Defence industry, others may prefer coding for the Medical industry. Industries that have a meaningful goal will help you to achieve that missing passion.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:12PM (#38004550)

      first of all. LOOK FOR A NEW JOB!.

      Second: Start a project on your own that is fun. (in my case: Make games!).


      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:18PM (#38004698)

        Start a project on your own that is fun.

        That is a really great idea.. probably one of the few things will get him to love programming again. He puts more advanced code into projects for his employer for no reason (not a good idea IMO), when all that effort should be put into his own project.

        BUT he needs to check his employment contract first. Very common for the employer to say they own everything you create, even if it's not on company time. And if he works for jerks, I wouldn't assume they won't take the project from him when he leaves if it has any value at all.

        • by CelticWhisper ( 601755 ) <celticwhisper AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:00PM (#38005418)
          I really don't mean to derail the discussion, but as a netadmin who generally doesn't code very much (beyond basic scripting for automation) I've always wondered about the "we own all your code" thing. Has it ever been tested in court whether an employer can lay claim to work done off company time on non-company resources, assuming the program has nothing to do with the company's operations (or even if it does)? Failing all else, can't the coder just release the program anonymously?
          • I really don't mean to derail the discussion, but as a netadmin who generally doesn't code very much (beyond basic scripting for automation) I've always wondered about the "we own all your code" thing. Has it ever been tested in court whether an employer can lay claim to work done off company time on non-company resources, assuming the program has nothing to do with the company's operations (or even if it does)? Failing all else, can't the coder just release the program anonymously?

            I had to sign such a contract with my current employer. Unfortunately, to test it you'd probably have to give up your career and hire a lawyer unless the employer just wasn't interested in what you wrote. I have always been curious about this, though. I do the odd project on the side, and they don't really care but if I were to write some whizbang iphone app that made a million dollars they might decide they wanted a piece (or the whole pie) and I'd be stuck deciding on keeping my current career or litig

          • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:39PM (#38006484)

            I've always wondered about the "we own all your code" thing.

            Companies with such a policy generally have a mechanism for waivers as well. Myself and coworkers at various employers had no problems in this regard. There was an admonition not to work on the hobby all night and show up in the morning exhausted. The admonition was offered with a smile in a humorous manner but there was probably an element of seriousness in there.

            I think a famous example of waivers may lie with Steve Wozniak and Apple. Supposedly Steve did some work at HP, management was not interested in it, Steve asked for a waiver and it was granted. That work wound up in the Apple II.

          • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:30PM (#38008446)

            IANAL, but the answer as far as I'm aware, is that they're a lot like non compete agreements in the sense that the vast majority of them are written overly broad and are unenforceable. If you are careful to never use company time, company equipment or any other company resource and your pet project is different than your normal scope of duties you'll almost certainly win any such case and your employers lawyers will probably advise them not to sue if it looks like you won't roll over.

            If you follow all the above with regards to company resources, but write something that's similar to your work, you're in a bit more of a gray area, best case scenario you will probably be required to license said software to your employer at no cost, worst case they may own it, it really depends a lot on the circumstance. This is mostly to prevent you writing crap code at work, and then writing something great at home and selling it back to your employer at extortionate prices.

            If you any kind of company resources you'll almost certainly end up with work for hire owned by the company, even if you do it in your own time. The only way you'd retain ownership would be if your employer explicitly granted you it. If you use company time especially you're absolutely screwed(and will probably be fired anyway).

            The obvious way around all this of course is to use a bunch of GPL code in your project forcing the GPL license. Under those circumstances it won't really matter who owns the software as they won't be able to change the licensing without a major rewrite and you'll get to keep it, you won't make any money off it, but you'll still have the code and be able to release it.

            • by Builder ( 103701 )

              You are very definitely not a lawyer. I've lost 2 projects that I had intended to open source to companies. I didn't use their time, I didn't use their equipment and I was careful to make sure that it had nothing to do with the company's core business. Didn't help.

              I might have won in a court, but I didn't want to jeapordize my job, and more importantly, spending money in court on a tool I was planning to give away didn't seem a sensible way to spend my limited funds.

          • Guys who are good (desirable to have) should really learn not to roll over and sign the first document that lands in their hands.

            You negotiate this stuff, you go "I need you to exclude work I do off-the-clock on my own resources, with a clause that if I do COMMERCIAL work I have to notify you of it to prevent conflict-of-interest". Then you notify them, big whoop, they don't really care about your little pet project imho.

            Can't say I've ever seen someone have a problem with this, but I don't job hop so my ex

          • by ( 583400 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @08:19AM (#38010968) Homepage

            Disclaimer: IANAL
            Use a source code repository. Never work on the project from the office (or from a computer lent by the company). Never commit from your office. Never commit during office hours. Never reuse code you wrote at work in your project.
            The repository log will be a good help to show your good faith if ever you get in trouble. Especially if the repository is hosted by a tier (Gitorious, GitHub, Google Code, SourceForge...) that could help to garantee that you did not cheat with the logs.

        • by drig ( 5119 )

          He wants to rekindle his love of coding, not make a bunch of money. If I were him, I'd go ahead and code up whatever I want, and damn the contract. If his job wants it, they can take it. Then, they can spend money QA testing it, redoing the UI, marketing and advertising it. It's all good, if he's having fun.

          • Doing what you love is a great way to make money. To have someone else take what you created and loved working on and change it, mess it up and destroy what was the best part of it really hurts the love of creating. He's not looking to become a millionaire but if he could support himself with his own projects, he would be a lot happier than he is not, even if he was making less money.
      • by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <[capsplendid] [at] []> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:18PM (#38004700) Homepage Journal

        In this economy? Screw that.
        • Looking for a new job is free (minus time of course). I actually landed a new job this year about 6 months ago and I had been actively (but not exhaustively) searching since January.
        • Re:Sucks to be you! (Score:4, Informative)

          by bberens ( 965711 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:32PM (#38004974)
          Developer unemployment is less than 3%. It's a seller's market for coding skills.
          • Re:Sucks to be you! (Score:4, Informative)

            by CptNerd ( 455084 ) <> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @09:16PM (#38007518) Homepage

            Unless you're over 50, in which case, good flippin' luck. And don't automatically assume, like all the HR types do, that age indicates lack of staying current, or inability to learn.

            • by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:32PM (#38008458)

              Greetings and Salutations....
                        Ageism has been, and continues to be, a serious problem in the IT profession. It does not apply to just coders either, as it seems that being over the age of 50 is a kiss of death for system administrators, DBAs, analysts, etc. I suspect that the issues that control this are (in no particular order)
                        1) Folks doing the hiring assume that anyone over the age of 50 is so stuck in their rut that they are out of touch with the newer technologies. Actually the cut off age here seems to be closer to 30....
                        2) The younger a hire is the cheaper they will be for the company. Most companies would rather pay a kid $40K a year and not worry about the fact that it might take him a week to do what a $100K a year hire could do in a day or even a few hours.
                        3) Again, because of the incorrect perception that IT people are an expense rather than an asset, HR hires the kid who knows how to do ONE thing, instead of the older, more experienced person that knows how to do a dozen things, and can likely apply that knowledge to find a way to make the company more efficient, using the excuse that the older hire is going to be "too expensive".
                        I will agree that, in the short term, the older hire requires a larger check...but in the long term, is likely to more than pay that back with the increases in efficiency and the savings he or she can bring to the company. This makes no difference, though, because these days, short-term profit is the only goal that companies can look for.
                          4) most management knows that the older hire is going to be more of a pain for them, because experience brings understanding of exactly how poorly most management runs things, and, a considerably lower tolerance for that sort of nonsense. The "fresh face" just out of school is willing to put up with a lot more crap that we, with that experience, are not. The kid actually believes management's vague, hand-waving promises of great rewards later on for 80 plus hours of work now!

        • Re:Sucks to be you! (Score:5, Informative)

          by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:32PM (#38004976)

          Yes, in this economy. Programmers are one of the professions that are almost untouched by the recession.

        • Alternate Headline:
          Writing code has just lost so much... Significance.

        • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:05PM (#38006148) Journal

          There are only three ways this is going to end - you're going to stay at the sucky job until you die, or you're going to find a new job and leave them, or you're going to stay at the sucky job until the manipulative jerks you work for go out of business / fire you for disliking them / lay you off to save their own jobs. The first option means your entire life will suck, and the third one means your life will suck for a while and leave you unemployed in ways that make it even harder to get a new job. So you need to get your ass out of there pretty fast.

          In this economy, it's not easy to find a new job, but it's a lot easier if you already have some job than if you don't. Interviewing is not only tough because it's the kind of social skill many people don't have, it's especially tough if you're under pressure from unemployment, and it's tough because there are almost always more people looking for a job than jobs available, so you're likely to get rejected unless it's an amazingly good match (and you know it going in.) But hey! you're getting dissed every day at work, so even a day of interviews where the people reject you is going to be better than a day at your current job, so it's a win, and it's practice for figuring out what you really want to do and what kinds of cool things other companies are doing so you can find the right one.

          Meanwhile, yeah, go out and start something open source, or start playing with Arduino micro-controllers, or whatever. So what if the company you work for ends up owning the intellectual property for your proximity-activated Christmas-tree-light cat exerciser?

      • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:30PM (#38004946)

        Second: Start a project on your own that is fun. (in my case: Make games!).

        This can be a good suggestion. But before that happens, he needs the inspiration to actually go through with it. Wanting to do some programming, but not having a single idea of what to do is an awful feeling.

    • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:13PM (#38004572)

      I work for manipulative jerks.

      This right here tells me it's not about your passion for coding. It's the fact that you dread going in to work each morning to face the manipulative jerks.

      Either go above the heads of the manipulative jerks and report what's making a hostile work environment, or start brushing up your resume, practice interviewing, and start looking for a new job.

      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:17PM (#38004656) Homepage

        Either go above the heads of the manipulative jerks and report what's making a hostile work environment, or start brushing up your resume, practice interviewing, and start looking for a new job.

        If you're going to do the first one, going over the heads of manipulative jerks, do the second one as well, because chances are the manipulative jerk's superiors are manipulative jerks who are more invested in your manipulative jerk bosses than they are in you.

        • Re:Sucks to be you! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:44PM (#38005184)

          Exactly. I've worked in a several different companies, and basically shit rolls downhill: if your bosses are jerks, then the people above them are going to be even worse. I've been in companies where my immediate bosses were OK, and the management above them not too bad either; one place where my immediate boss was cool, but as you got up the chain they got exponentially more horrible (incompetent, stupid, etc.), another place where my boss sucked, but the ones above him were far worse. People are frequently a product of their environment; at that last place I think my boss might not have been so bad if he had always worked in a better company than that one, but he had always worked there, so he was firmly invested in the place and its dysfunction.

          Trying to go above your boss's head is always a losing proposition, as far as I'm concerned. If you don't like where you are, get out and find a new job. That tripe about "change coming from within" is good in some other contexts, but not in corporate employment. You're just a hired gun, nothing more, and the people calling the shots are the sociopaths at the top, so if you're not satisfied with the environment they've set up, you need to go find some place where the grass is greener. Even if the new place isn't any better, a change of scenery will make you feel better for a little while, and give you time to find a better position.

      • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:28PM (#38004894)

        Either go above the heads of the manipulative jerks and report what's making a hostile work environment, or start brushing up your resume, practice interviewing, and start looking for a new job.

        I'd order that more:

        1. Brush up the resume
        2. Go on some interviews, even though you hate to, you'll get a better feel what's out there
        3. Once you have an offer that is at least a lateral move, go above the jerks heads and see what you can accomplish (hint: there's a reason you have an offer in hand when doing this)
        4. Choose your destiny

        Happiness comes from control, that why your bosses are manipulative jerks, they're basically pleasuring themselves at your expense.

        Don't discount the possibility of things turning around where you are, it has happened for me in the past.

        • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:49PM (#38005258)

          Once you have an offer that is at least a lateral move, go above the jerks heads and see what you can accomplish (hint: there's a reason you have an offer in hand when doing this)

          I disagree completely. Counteroffers are almost always losing propositions, especially if you don't like the people you're working for (because they're manipulative jerks). Your job offer from the new company is only good for a short time. If you blow it by taking that to your boss, and getting a raise or some other minor concession, they're going to see you as "not a team player", and start looking for your replacement right away. Then, they're going to can your ass, at a time that is convenient for them but not so convenient for you, and that job offer will be expired. If you go above your boss's head, unless you get assigned to a new department with a new boss, you'll always have an antagonistic or toxic relationship with your boss, until they find your replacement.

          If your company isn't keeping you happy, that's their own failure. You can't fix it for them, and pointing it out to them is not going to make them happy or appreciative; they'll just be annoyed that you bothered them instead of staying in your place as their peon. There may be some exceptions to this, but they're rare; the poster here already said his bosses were "manipulative jerks", and I've never heard of a company where the upper management were nice people and the people below them were jerks; if your boss is a jerk, the people above him probably are too: birds of a feather flock together.

        • Re:Sucks to be you! (Score:4, Informative)

          by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:35AM (#38010518)

          Either go above the heads of the manipulative jerks and report what's making a hostile work environment, or start brushing up your resume, practice interviewing, and start looking for a new job.

          I'd order that more:

          1. Brush up the resume
          2. Go on some interviews, even though you hate to, you'll get a better feel what's out there

          A bit more on this step: It's not just to know what's out there. It's also to brush up on your interviewing skills. Don't just go on interviews for jobs that really interest you; at start, just go to every interview you can get. You may be wasting their time, but it's the only free way to brush up on your interviewing skills, and you'll be more confident when you get to the interviews that matter.

          Once you start feeling more at ease at interviews, you can stop wasting everybody's time.

      • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:34PM (#38005000)

        Yes, but being dissatisfied at work can take a huge drain on you, to the point where you really don't want to do anything else after you get home, especially not something associated with what you do at work.

        • I find that writing code to help other people, even if I have to do it for free, keeps my enthusiasm sky high. I have interesting code to write at work, but contributing to open-source projects for the blind is where I get really excited.

      • I've had jobs like that and it's tough. Best thing really is to develop a relaxing life outside the job while looking for a better one.

      • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

        Yep, fear-based top-down command and control is another way to describe it.

    • by nepka ( 2501324 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:16PM (#38004648)
      I enjoy coding greatly. But even before I started working, I saw that coding for work will ruin the fun for me. So I got a job in related industry where I can greatly use my coding experience in my advantage, but isn't really about coding. It's like with game testers - if you test games for living, it will take the fun of playing any games from you. Now I work in other industry, but I'm a really handy guy around (both for others, and for myself) because of my extra ability to code, suggest things about computer security and everything else IT-related. This not only ensures I don't ruin the fun from coding, but makes me more valuable to any company (as per the extra stuff I can do) and I find work generally more interesting.
    • but find one that peaks your interest

      It seems to me that the original poster has already seen the peak of his interest come and go. That's the problem. The challenge is now two-fold: find something that piques his interest, and once piqued, figure out how to sustain it.

      • Ie, pick a job that lets you build something useful for people, or work for a company that does this. Being a generic IT type or office drone very often doesn't do much. If the company just does some boring business apps it's really hard to get excited about coming to work. For instance if your job was eliminated and the company went bankrupt tomorrow, would the rest of the world really care that something of value was now missing?

        So it helps to actually create a product first. Then to create a product

    • Exactly right.

      You don't have an impressive resume? Bull. Everybody's resume is impressive for *some* job. It may not pay as much. It may have some other negative aspect. But your current job is sucking the life out of you. For an activity you'll be compelled to spend 2000 hours per year doing, would you prefer the pay or the joy?

    • Hey look at me! I have no ambition in life and now I am board with it.

      The attitude is horrible. No wonder he stinks at the job interview. Work on the attitude and other things may clear up.
      I have in the past had to hire people. Attitude is more important then technical skills. Technical skills only get you so far, a positive attitude gets you much further.

      Some interviewing changes.
      Your past bosses are not "manipulative jerks", You are looking for expanding your independence in your career.
      You are not an

    • Hello McFly? HELLO?

      > Get your resume up to date.

      The POINT is that once you're stuck in the twilight zone of corporate assembly-line coding, there is NOTHING "up to date" to put on the resume.

      One cannot even obtain an interview let alone entertain your ideas of jumping into "exciting" new industries.

      As if defence or medical coding is any more exciting than insurance or banking anyway...

      You're living in fairy land. You're probably still at university.

  • I can't "give" you passion. I'm not Martin Luther King Jr. and this isn't about Human Rights. Passion comes from within and if it's not there, I can't trigger you to release it.

    If all it required for passion was to saunter up to a counter and say "One passion, please" then we'd all be theoretical physicists musing over our all night analysis of LHC data whilst having tea with Stephen Hawking right now.

    Sorry to be so crass about it but all I can do is tell you what got the ball rolling inside of me to make computers do exactly what I bid them to and how that makes me feel at the end of the day. To tell you to go home and read Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold-Bug [] and then implement a Hidden Markov Model that learns on Bach Chorales in LISP is unlikely to do you any good. Me, on the other hand, that shit turned me from a hay bailing idiot farmhand into a programmer.
  • Do It Yourself (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClayDowling ( 629804 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:12PM (#38004560) Homepage

    The Man is paying you to write this routine code because it's mind numbing, soul-sucking work that nobody would ever do of their free will. If the problem you were solving was fun, there's be an open source project that was solving it.

    The solution I had to use was writing my own software to solve problems I found interesting. That also let me test out new techniques and tools that I couldn't do at the day job. After all, there are only so many ways to CReate, Update and Delete records from a monolithic database.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I dunno man, I see open source projects solving "mind numbing, soul-sucking" problems. I think we know who the future serial-killers are by those who work (in their free time) on projects like Dia or Java EE containers.

      • by bberens ( 965711 )
        I can't believe that someone spends their time getting poorly formatted HTML to render properly in open source browsers. I sometimes feel my work is boring, but yowza that sounds crazy boring.
  • Projects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bucky24 ( 1943328 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:13PM (#38004576)
    Start your own projects on the side. Or if you don't have any ideas, join an open source project. Unless you're amazingly good at programming you'll probably learn something either way, and, at least for me, that's what makes it fun.

    But like anyone else I can only really give you suggestions that would work for me or I know worked for someone else. you have to really discover it again on your own.
  • I've been having great fun (and make quite a bit of money) writing iOS apps for people. I get all sorts of different projects, and programming for the platform is fun.

  • by CruelKnave ( 1324841 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:14PM (#38004588)
    Try taking on a personal project, or get involved in an existing open source project that you find interesting.
    • That's fine to get the interest back in programming.

      - but you'll still be sick of programming for work... and you do have to keep working.

  • "creative coding" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Haven ( 34895 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:14PM (#38004600) Homepage Journal

    Do some "creative coding" with p5 in Java ( [] ) or OpenFrameworks in C/C++ ( [] ).

    Make some art, it's rewarding.

  • by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:15PM (#38004616)

    I have found contributing to open source to be a great learning experience and also rewarding. I started my own RPC-via-socket library for Actionscript [] and am now working to revive a defunct PHP extension, AMFEXT []. I could use help if you know some C.

  • by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:15PM (#38004618)

    I found that programming for a living does tend to take away the passion I used to have for it. To compensate, I tend to code for myself on my off time. I'd like to get into an open source project one of these days, but for now, I just write my own programs and enjoy the process.

    You could get into an open source project, see if that might re-kindle your passion for programming. Make sure you check you company policy for code you write after work, you wouldn't want to run afoul of that.

  • "I'm going to need you to come in tomorrow,. . . AHHHHH! YEAAAAHHHHH! . . . OOOOOOK! Yeah, we, uh, lost a few people so we need to play a little catch-up, ALRIIIIIGHT! Oh, oh, and I almost forgot! I need you to come in on Sunday, as well! YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH! So, if you could come in over the weekend, that'd be GREEEEAAAAAAT! OK! Thanks, Peter!"

    "By the way, did you get that memo we sent out this morning?"

  • quit your job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:17PM (#38004660) Journal

    Quit your job. You'll find motivation. Maybe not right away, but definitely when money gets tight.

    Just don't pass your time with WOW. You'll starve to death.

    • BAD advice. Get another job, THEN leave.
      • Not at all. He said he wanted to get back his passion for writing code. There's nothing like desperation for creating passion.

        Now, you and I, we would play it safe and get another job first before quitting this one, because poverty sucks. But that doesn't build passion.

        Alternate plan: Quit your job, register as an LLC in your state, and create your own product. Be careful to know enough of the business end (or know someone who does) that you don't waste your time writing something you can't, or don't k

  • by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:17PM (#38004674) Homepage

    Try something else. Maybe that thrill will come back some day, but if it doesn't, have a plan B. You can stay in IT, but it doesn't need to be straight-up coding. There's always database design/administration, OLAP, etc.

    But sometimes I get sick of it too. Then I come back after a month or two of focusing on other objectives, and whee!

  • D00d... just figure out what gets you fired up (language, end product vision, etc) and then start something up on your own.

    Mobile is hot... make something for your iPhone or Android device and have mucho fun!!! Doing so will add to your resume and show you have self motivation.

  • I like coding, creating, developing, but work is often just mundane stuff. Once in a while there's a carrot, to develop something new, replace a cruddy old process with something better. Enjoy those rare opportunities.

    At home I keep encountering things I'd like to develop, so I do a bit here and there. And I can work in the language I prefer, in the environment I prefer, at home.

  • So I can't relate to your situation, but what got me out of being bored with my project and in general with writing code was learning something entirely new. In my case, it was *finally* learning functional programming, and starting on an associated path to (re)learning some math concepts.

    Whether that works for other people, I have no idea, but it did work for me, and made me enthusiastic again about simply writing code.

  • Retrain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:19PM (#38004720)

    Do like I did: retrain and start a new career. I used to be an overworked software project manager with the love of coding drained out of me, and now I'm a happy gunsmith.

    It's never too late to go back to school. No sense in living a life you don't like, you only have one life and you need to enjoy it to the fullest.

    • What age did you do it at?

      I'd like a career change, but at 46 I can't see it happening. I also have the whole "how could I possibly walk away from this high paying, full benefits job even if it makes me hate every particle in the universe" syndrome.

      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        Living up to your handle, I see.

      • by wrook ( 134116 )

        At 39 I quit my job and became an English teacher in Japan (I'm 44 now). 46 is older than 39, granted, but it's younger than 50 ;-) In other words, you'll never be younger than you are today.

        I think you are correct to question the whole thing seriously. I don't think you can simply change your career. Rather, you are looking at a lifestyle change. For me, that was a welcome change. In my old job I was pulling in a lot of money. I had a big house, a nice car, a prestigious job, every toy I wanted, etc

      • I'd like a career change, but at 46 I can't see it happening. I also have the whole "how could I possibly walk away from this high paying, full benefits job even if it makes me hate every particle in the universe" syndrome.

        Sell your house, divorce your wife and move away so you don't have to see your kids. Make sure you become a teetotaller (both alcohol and sex), and find a cheap appartment near the train tracks. Get yourself a seasonal bus ticket.

        If you follow my advice, then you'll have very litt

  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#38004728)

    When I find my career getting stale, I try to change the venue. If you write enterprise code, try moving to embedded software. If you write code for a commercial enterprise, try writing for an academic or government organization. Or vice versa.

    Alternatively, identify a hobby or avocation you have, and write code in that area. Many people have changed avocations to vocations in this way by finding job openings via the hobby grapevine.

    I'm more concerned with your apparent short-selling of yourself. Having poor interviewing and resume-writing skills is not a lifetime curse; like all skills, one gets better with practice, and the practice is free. Patrick McKenzie [] has useful advice in this area.

  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#38004732)

    You don't have to love your job. It's work. You get paid to do it. I used to like my job a lot, but it paid absolute crap and I was working over 60 hours a week. So, I left it. I liked my new job less but was getting paid a lot more to do it. I was working only a 40 hour week. So, I used that extra time and money to enjoy my LIFE outside of work. Passion for programming? I now have the time and resources to foster that creative need on my own time and more importantly on my own terms.

  • by frostfreek ( 647009 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:21PM (#38004748)

    I was in the same situation, bored out of my mind working on a product that *nobody* cares about, let alone me; The product was mature, so there was very little development. Coming in to work was getting to be a major drag. I was starting to consider changing careers entirely, thinking I was a burn-out.

    Fortunately, a new project popped up at work, and I was lucky enough to be on it, and it has definitely improved everything. I am having fun cranking out code just like "the good old days", so the burn-out thing was really just boredom, and knowing that the work I was doing was never going to affect, well, pretty much anyone.

    So perhaps the question is, "How do I get onto a new project?"

    Maybe it won't happen with your "manipulative jerks".
    Maybe you have to come up with something completely new.
    Are there other devs there too? Or other people who like to come up with product ideas?

    I think I was pretty lucky. You may have to make your own luck here.

  • by Tomun ( 144651 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:21PM (#38004760)

    Write some software for yourself in your spare time and perhaps learn a new language to do it in. Then give it away for free and receive adulation/ridicule.

    Calibre could do with a decent rival app if you're into ebooks..

  • I have found some of the AI challenges out there to be refreshing. Had a lot of fun with the Netflix challenge a while back (even though I didn't do terribly well). Here is one that Google is sponsoring right now... []

  • Quit being a generic coder. As long as you're an interchangeable cog, you'll be treated like one and feel like one.

    Find a niche. Do you like biology? Astronomy? Nuclear physics? Radio? Find something you enjoy that you can develop a deep skill in addition to being a coder, so you're now an "$whatever specialist" who's capable of understanding that deep problem and writing the code to solve it. And keep learning about it - unless you're learning something new as you go along, you're going to get bored

    • ... and yes, I'm aware that "fucking robots" can be interpreted several ways. I believe my statement is applicable to all of them. :)

  • I can say much the same as you, @poster, and toss onto the pile that, in spite of 15 good years doing programming, my initial educational period was ... stormy? Incomplete, and not something I like to get into on my resume; though I tend to be frank about it (it's also a popular topic of complaint with me given the hostility from the financial aide department that didn't help at the time.) At any rate, I do impactful coding and really have no business complaining about my job, but I am ... I don't know...
  • You should apply for "Hell's Cubicle", where the winner gets to run a top software house. Steve Ballmer gets nine contestants to compete, and as things start to heat up you can expect chairs to fly. In the first episode you have to write some original code with your own special pgp signature. If you get through then you'll need to get your passion back as you struggle to interface your modules in time with the rest of the team. At some point you will need to lead the team as Project Manager, I hope you're Q

  • I stick in more advanced stuff into my code when I can, but that is always on the sly

    Please don't do this. Resist the urge to get clever for the sake of being clever. This will almost always come back to bite you (or more likely a coworker) later in time.

    With software, less is definitely more so try to write as little code as possible to solve te problem at hand.

  • I don't know what it's like where you are or in whatever technology you work in, but when I was feeling like you are a few years ago I started getting involved in the local programmer community. There are a lot of user groups out there that get together, usually about once a month, to talk about technology. I've found that a couple nights out a month with motivated peers does wonders for my morale. The format of most of the meetings I've been to is a lecture by someone knowledgeable about a specific topi

  • I've never been in exactly your position of having a stable job but being completely apathetic about it but I go through something similar with things that interest me. To get the enthusiasm back I'd say look for a problem some one is having and program up a "wow" solution for them.

    Everybody has an example of this I think: your mechanic is still shuffling paper and unnecessarily faxing things between a web-based database to replace it...maybe a parent is having the same constant issue with t

  • Maybe your side project should be something NOT coding? Woodworking, pottery, teaching kids to read and write English, volunteering somewhere?

    If you're not careful, eventually you'll be coding for something related to that project, and liking it. Even if that doesn't work, teaching or volunteering both improves your personal brand/network, and might give you some insights you didn't have before into your day job output. And if nothing else, you can make the world a better place, which you seem to want to

  • Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. ~ W. Gibson

  • I'm in a similar boat to the Original poster.

    I learned programming as a kid- wrote my first simple games on a Spectrum when I was only 5 years old.

    Fast forward to University- I was a biology major who had no idea what he wanted to do in life but had took bunches of computer science classes to boost my GPA. Strangely enough- decided beginning of senior year there are no jobs in biology- and I could still graduate as a computer business major without spending any longer in college.

    Took a "temporary" job prog

  • What I did to sharpen my interviewing skills was to go find a job I knew I could blow out of the water, tweak my resume' so it looked like a good fit, then went and interviewed for it. I would come out of the interview feeling like I aced it, then once they were salivating over me for the job, go on another one, but this time a bit more difficult one. It worked for me, YMMV.
  • I had a similar post a few years back. Guess what? I'm still working here and it still sucks. The only thing I can suggest is that if there are other things you are interested in, persue them. But first though, find another job, because you should only work for manipulative jerks if you have to. Then, did you ever want to get a degree in X? Why not go for it? Something else to think about is that there are a lot of health and/or spiritual conditions that can cause you to fill unfulfilled and unmotivated. Co
  • I did that many years ago (because no one else wanted to and things needed to get done) and haven't looked back. No more long, drawn out projects. No more odious project leader standing over my desk making sure I get something done on time. No more endless 'I liked that the way it was, can you move it back one pixel??' user requirement changes.

    Instead, my job is to fix problems. Programs running too long, using too many resources, aborting, not playing well with others, and a host of other issues. Data
  • I find when I'm in a funk that it's time to learn a new language/tool. Currently I'm learning python. I'm having a good time learning a new language and even though I don't expect to ever make a living off my mad python scripting skills seeing the approaches to various problems in different arenas/languages makes me better at my core languages which I do get paid for writing. Of course, learning a new language might not be *it* for you. We're all unique snowflakes or something. You gotta find what it i
  • by Yold ( 473518 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @05:53PM (#38005332)

    "There is a club for people who don't like their job, it is called "EVERYBODY"; they meet at a bar".

    -Drew Carey

  • by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:32PM (#38006416)
    Learn Clojure [] with the help of Project Euler []. After years of programming that made me feel like a grey bureaucrat, those two got me excited again.
  • Code something you personally want yourself. Make it an open source project. Or find a project doing something that's almost what you want and start working on it to make it work like you need it to.

    Find a real project you actually want to work on, to make your own life better. Your skills will then be exercised.

    (What does Linus Torvalds do for coding away from Linux? He writes a simple dive-computer [] routine. Not a dazzling display of computer science pyrotechnics, but an actual thing he didn't have, wanted and could do.)

  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:32PM (#38007100)

    If you need to sneak more advanced stuff into your codebase, and your employer demands boring crap code; you have the wrong job. A lot of programming jobs only really need boring straight CRUD (create, read, update, delete) screens, straightforward websites, and programming that is easy for crap developers to read.

    There are lots of jobs out there that either perform tasks outside the boring realm of data entry or ecommerce that require creative and well designed code to get the job done. Other projects may be boring on the surface concepts, but are of such massive scale that they require just as creative thinking.

    A lot of people might suggest, program for pay at work, and leave the creative work as a hobby. I say fuck to that. If you are going to spend 8+ hours a day doing something, it had better be interesting. A lot of companies don't really activly advertise how interesting their work is. Talk to people, ask them about technologies. In fact I will say with 100% accuracy, that showing an interest in the advanced technologies and more importantly advanced techniques, will make you very appealing; no matter what your resume says.

    If an interviewer just shrugs or looks forlorn when you mention the more exciting parts of programming during an interview... well you don't want to work there anyhow.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell